Mental Health Awareness Month | Stay Safe Online
It’s Mental Health Awareness month in the US, so we wanted to look at ways you can be online whilst also taking care of your mental wellbeing.
In America, May is observed as Mental Health Awareness month. Many organisations, like Mental Health America, reach out to people via media and local events to spread the word that mental health is something everyone should care about.
It has been recognised in a number of reports that social media can impact negatively on our mental health. Last year, a report from the Wall Street Journal found that Instagram is “toxic” for young girls. Since then, Instagram Kids was paused in order for the company to work more closely with parents and experts to make the experience watertight and safe.
The “Take a Break” feature was also introduced on Instagram in order to discourage teens from spending too long on the app. TikTok also revealed features to promote mental health assistance. Appealing to a younger demographic, these features include guides on wellbeing as well as intervention features to deter from teen suicide.
The world of social media can, unfortunately, be a murky place. Whilst you may use it to spread information, boost your business, or connect in a fun and light-hearted way, the negative aspects can creep in. It’s important to distinguish tips and advice from recommendations and diagnoses from qualified professionals. If you are experiencing serious mental health conditions, you should seek professional help. We’ll list some contacts and organisations at the bottom of the article.
With that said, we’ve put together some tips and reminders on how you can look after your mental wellbeing whilst engaging online. By keeping a heathy relationship with social media, more difficult and negative experiences could be avoided.
Reduce Screen Time
Just like with delicious but unhealthy food, everything in moderation. Going cold turkey and completely cutting something out can be too difficult. The all or nothing approach can be unrealistic, and could result in a big relapse.
Many social media apps have built-in features that will notify you when you’ve spent your daily time limit on thee app. Try reducing your daily limit gradually, stepping away from the screen when your time is up. Also, try to be online with purpose. This means curbing mindless scrolling, and only using apps when you specifically want or need to do something on them.
If your work involves you being on social media a lot, whether you’re a content creator or use Instagram as a marketing tool, it can be difficult to reduce screen time. In this case, try and remember to take regular breaks. Spending extended periods of time engrossed in social media can take its toll.
Not only will taking a break be good for your eyes, it’ll help keep you grounded and connected to reality.
Audit Accounts You Follow
If you’re seeing content on your feed that is negative or puts you in a bad mood, unfollow it. Recommendations can be unhelpful in providing content that you might not like. But, if you go through the accounts you follow and get rid of any negative ones, this should help set things right.
Good things to avoid are accounts that force comparisons. This is because, whilst they might claim to promote inspiration and motivation, they can actually cause feelings of despair and defeat. It’s against our nature to have a constant view into other people’s lives and compare them to our own.
Share with Care
You can do your bit by being a good member of the social media community, and only share or repost positive content. If something has upset you, try to refrain from sharing it. If you do, someone else could see it and get just as upset as you.
The old saying is “misery loves company”, but if you play a part in making social media a happier place, others might follow. This can lead you to creating a close social media community that spreads positivity and support.
Have a Support Network
Make sure you have trusted friends online, either that you know in person or have met virtually but safely, that you can reach out to. Part of mental health awareness is being able to confide in others and talk about your wellbeing.
Having this readily available on social media can help nip any negative feelings in the bud.
If you’re experiencing more serious mental health conditions, you can reach out to these organisations for professional advice and help:
- Mental Health America Crisis Text Line – text MHA to 741741
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 800-273-8255
- National Alliance on Mental Illness – 1-800-950-6264
- Teen Line – 800-852-8336